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When RESOLVE was just a fledgling, we ran two posts from Greg Gibson titled “It’s never too late to start a personal project.” Since then we’ve seen so many great personal projects, and heard about even more that are still just ideas. By highlighting our faves in this new “It’s Personal” column, we hope to encourage more photographers to turn their great idea into a great personal project.
Elliott Erwitt and Jim Marshall, from Tim Mantoani's "Behind Photographs" project. ©Tim Mantoani Photography Inc.

Elliott Erwitt and Jim Marshall, from Tim Mantoani's "Behind Photographs" project. ©Tim Mantoani Photography Inc.

Name: Tim Mantoani
San Diego
Full-time job:

Personal project name and description
Behind Photographs — I have been shooting portraits of photographers for the past 2.5 years on 20×24 Polaroid. Each photographer is holding an image they are known for. As many of these photographers, like Polaroid, fade away, I hope these images will be a way for future generation to appreciate the contribution these artists have made.

When and why did you start it?
I started shooting in Dec ’06; I always wanted to try shooting with the 20×24 Polaroid. Since it is expensive to rent, I wanted to shoot something that meant something special to me. I knew both Jim Marshall and Michael Zagaris and asked them to bring in a favorite image to hold for a portrait. It all snowballed from there.

What is your favorite image so far?
Too many great images and memories to call out a single image.

What has been the most challenging thing about the project?
Cost and time. I have really maxed myself out financially shooting this project, but it is all starting to come together now that people can see the work. Sadly, some of the participants have passed away, but it is a great feeling to know that I can help keep their legacies alive.

What has been the most rewarding thing about it?
Being able to spend some time with each of these photographers, to hear their stories and collaborate on the final image.

In your ideal world, where would this project end up?
I would love to see this project in a large venue where I can show all of the images at full size.

Do you recommend personal projects to other photographers, and why?
Every photographer has a personal project they want to shoot. JUST GO DO IT!!!! There will always be a bunch of reasons not to: money, time, risk. But at the end of the day, the images you shoot for YOU are the ones that will be your best and the most rewarding. The roller coaster is more fun than the merry-go-round.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Do you have a personal project or know of one that you’d like us to highlight on RESOLVE? Add your suggestions to the comments or email us.

Ted Barron at the Boogie Woogie Flu blog posted two very cool MP3 tracks of Weegee and Henri Cartier-Bresson speaking about photography. The Online Photographer also pointed us to some other audio clips of radio interviews with Weegee from 1945, including an explanation of how he got his name.

Kodak announced on Monday that they will retire the 74-year old Kodachrome film because, quite simply, it’s not selling. Is it ironic or perfect timing that National Geographic Museum’s new exhibition, which runs through September 7, is “Kodachrome Culture: the American tourist in Europe“?

The best-remembered Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett died of cancer on Thursday at the age of 62. The New York Times had a nice tribute, and Bruce McBroom, the photographer behind the actress’ iconic poster, shared the story of the serendipitous shoot.

With the recent Iran media ban, there is a growing concern for the lack of professional conflict coverage. Paul Melcher had a great piece on why war photographers are rarer than ever. A timely wake up call for anyone who really cares about photojournalism.

Photo by Mark Mosrie

Photo by Mark Mosrie

Matt Bailey, liveBooks‘ own co-founder (that’s him to the left), recently wrote an informative piece for Photoshop Insider about effective ways for photographers to use video on their websites. We wanted to bring you some highlights from the story, which focuses on using video to market yourself rather than offering it as a service to clients. You can check out the full story at Photoshop Insider.

With the availability of affordable, high-quality digital photo equipment steadily increasing over the last several years, the market has been flooded with an unprecedented volume of photographs and emerging photographers. Most searches for images and photographers begin on the web. Yet this can create confusion on the part of the viewer about which photographer is right for what they need. How do you distinguish yourself from the sea of photographic talent available? You can start by marketing yourself as a professional who brings more to the table than a handful of carefully selected images. You need to develop an effective brand for yourself that communicates the value of your personal vision and experience. Video presents an opportunity to add more dimension to this brand in a number of ways.

Help people get to know you
The primary purpose of these videos is to break through the static nature of portfolio viewing and create a more human connection. If a prospective client likes your personality or feels they can relate to you in some way, there is a much better chance they will give you preference over someone they feel less of a connection with. This is human nature. The main challenge with a bio video is to create something that is “on brand.” If you are marketing yourself in a playful way, for example, be sure the video is a bit playful as well. A disconnect in this area can do more to confuse than ingratiate. If you are unsure, consult with an expert. Here are a few photographers whose bio videos have added a lot to their online presentations:

Jules Bianchi: Wedding and portrait photographer
Chase Jarvis: Commercial and sports photographer
Chris Rainier: Photojournalist and National Geographic Society Fellow

Let other people say nice things about you
Video is also regularly being used to highlight various other strengths, including video testimonials, vignettes from an actual shoot, and studio tours, among others. Adding a more dynamic, human touch to these areas brings life to them in a way that can be far more compelling than a page with text. Watching someone gush over how amazing you were to work with can have an emotional impact that makes the difference between someone hiring you or your competitor. This approach can be effective whether you market toward photo buyers, brides, or other types of individuals. In the end, we are all people, and all of us want to work with people we trust and like.

How to get started
Just like still photographs, there are down and dirty methods, as well as more elaborate, polished methods. Using a $200 Flip Video camera or webcam and posting to your blog could be perfect for your purposes. For many, a more professional approach will be more effective. It all comes down to your intentions and your brand. Do you want to be seen as a seasoned professional who projects quality and panache, or as a guerrilla upstart who provides a dynamic, gritty vision? These are the creative questions that need to be answered in advance, so you know what direction to take technically. If you can produce a video yourself or with a friend, so much the better, but, as with any photo shoot, be sure you have everything you need to be successful. If you need help, a video producer can help you sort through these preliminary questions.

Choose the best presentation
Once you have the video shot and edited, you will need to prepare a copy for the web. As with still photos, you will want to find the right balance between quality and loading speed.  A large, high-quality video can look amazing, but take a while to load.  Smaller, more compressed files will load quicker, but may not have the desired impact. If you have the ability to upload your own video and preview it on the web, you should certainly do that. Depending where you plan to display it, you may choose one of a handful of formats, including Quick Time, Windows Media Player, and Flash Video. All liveBooks’ websites give the user the ability to upload any of these formats on their own, or you can have us design a custom page structure and player in Flash. Here are clients who have taken that approach:

Justin Francis: Music video director
Double Plus Good: Advertising video producers
Oliver Rduch: Documentary filmmaker

However you are able to do it, do not hold off on leveraging video to your advantage if you feel you can benefit from it. Ultimately, creating a better connection between you and your clients could result in more bookings with people you are more likely to relate to. It can also result in clients who are more informed about you and your business before you even speak to them. And who knows, maybe you find you have a knack for it and can offer an extended range of services in the future.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: How are you using video to help market yourself? Have you seen tangible results from it?

After watching Harry Benson‘s Photographers In Focus video about getting his start in photography, we figured he would have some sage words for photographers trying to make their own start in the business. Below he talks about the sacrifices a photographer makes — which don’t feel like sacrifices if you love what you’re doing.
©Harry Benson

James Brown, Georgia, 1979 ©Harry Benson

Carmen Suen: How did you get started in photography?

Harry Benson: That was a long time ago. When I was a teenager, I felt like being a photographer was my only hope. I have always been interested in photography. And, I was never very good at academics. I thought, I could be a professional soccer player, or I could be a professional photographer. I played a few soccer games, and thought I wasn’t that great. When I was 21 or 22, I started doing wedding photography at local churches. It was at that time that I started to get more serious about photography. Eventually, I got a job at the Daily Express.

To me, photography is honest and straightforward. As a photographer, all you need to do is to take good pictures. If you work hard, and take the opportunities in front of you, you will succeed. There are, of course, obstacles. While my friends were going out for a drink, I was working. I seldom got to celebrate Christmas and New Year like most people do. I celebrate these holidays with my family in a different way. I don’t see it as a sacrifice; I see it as a privilege. It’s very lucky to be able to do what makes you happy.

CS: What was your first “big job”?

HB: Well, there was not really any one “big job.” But I think I have some favorite pictures — those I took during my 2-week trip with the Beatles in February 1964. I love those pictures because they are happy pictures.

That was a very special trip for me. I never wanted to be a rock photographer. But then I got this opportunity to travel with one of the most important groups in rock history. Because it was a newspaper assignment, I had to send pictures back to London every day. I had to consistently bring back good photographs. I needed to stay as creative and good as I could be. That was not easy, but I did it.

CS: Do you have any advice for young photographers?

HB: Always go to the smallest denominator, and don’t get carried away. Look for a job in a local newspaper, not a big city paper. Local newspapers pay for your mistakes. If you can take a great picture of a small town mayor, you can take a great picture of a president.


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